Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday Mania--Query Letter

One of our readers has submitted a query letter for critique. Please offer only constructive comments.

Critique Archive #44

Dear Ms.****,

It was 2003 and I was living in Haiti and working for a volunteer medical organization when there was a coup to remove Jean Bertrand Aristide as the president of Haiti.

While experiencing the sounds and smells of war—the extreme isolation, the hovering military helicopters, the gunfire—I was also experiencing a fear of my best Haitian friend and a journey of extreme mental decline. This is when I began writing The Faces of Haiti, Belief or Truth—a scrapbook of memories about a single voluntary commitment which drastically changed the life of a woman who was confident, responsible, well educated, and respected, to a woman who suffered from extreme fear, serious mental decline and loss of the lifelong ability to make good decisions. Here is the story of a woman who could no longer define who was friend, lover, or foe—a woman, who, when looking in the mirror, no longer physically resembled herself.

The commitment and work required to aid a medical doctor and close friend, with the building of a physical rehabilitation program in Port au Prince, Haiti, began not only the growth of the well respected Non Governmental Organization which prospers today, but was also the catalyst in a personal endeavor that approached the precipice of insanity.

The organization, Healing Hands for Haiti, has provided care and limbs for the disabled, and the education in rehabilitation care for orphanages, hospitals, and many young Haitians. The organization is where I met my best friend; and then began a downhill slide into fear, insecurity, and paranoia. Yet that same organization gave me a chance many people never have to examine my life and the lives of others.

Hopefully I have conveyed that I have had the good fortune to separate my beliefs from truth. Learning that acceptance means an honest, non-judgmental examination of the truths and beliefs of all parties involved—including my own—and separating those beliefs from the customs of a country steeped in mystical traditions. Only then could I begin my uphill battle to regain the woman I once was.

I have been a medical social worker for twenty years, twelve years directly in Physical Rehabilitation Social Work. I began my yearly volunteer work with Healing Hands for Haiti by helping create the organization in 1998, and I moved to Haiti permanently to aid in building a new clinic in early 2004. I later moved into the community of Carrefour, Haiti to heal my mental health and begin to know Haiti and its people in an intimate and honest manner. It was in Carrefour where I experienced a new level of love and friendship.

I have attached the Table of Contents and sample chapters of my book The Faces of Haiti, Belief or Truth and hope you will find in them a desire to read more. Thank you for your consideration.


Elly said...

The book sounds fascinating, but I think you could cut your querry letter in half, at least. Pare out all the extra verbage. Just be straightforward and direct. Your meaning often gets garbled among too many words.

For starters, were you afraid OF your friend or FOR her? And then, who is the book about??? Your friend or you?

Becky said...

While this sounds interesting I have to admit I got lost reading the query. It's hard but it has to be kept short.

Focus on the story itself. Is it essential to know the background of when/why the book was written, or the background of the organization, to understand the book? If it is, keep it to the must-have info. If not, it should probably go.

Good luck!

Lisa said...

Your efforts are inspiring, but I got lost trying to decipher the difference between your volunteer efforts and the theme of the book. It just wasn't clear to me. Maybe, just focus on the central theme of your manuscript. Your personal stuff would be great in your bio. Best of luck!